All Perspectives

AllPerspectives

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    29 June 2022
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    The level of activity in the US and the euro area is very high but growth has already slowed down significantly and quarter over quarter growth should remain low for the remainder of the year. Worries about the cyclical outlook are on the rise due to a combination of elevated inflation, geopolitical uncertainty and monetary policy tightening. Survey data on input prices and delivery times have eased but the levels are still very high. Wage growth remains strong in the US and is picking up in the euro area, creating concern that inflation would decline more slowly than expected.  In addition, assessing the true state of demand has become very difficult. 
    Inflation’s unexpected rebound in May forced the Federal Reserve (Fed) to accelerate the normalisation of its monetary policy. In mid-June, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decided to raise the fed funds rate by 75 basis points (bp). At the same time, the Fed began to shrink its balance sheet through Quantitative Tightening (QT). For the moment, the US economy is holding up well, supported by robust fundamentals such as employment. Yet activity is beginning to slow under the impact of tighter lending conditions and deteriorating global economic prospects. The US economy will come under fierce pressure as it navigates towards a hard or soft landing.
    China’s economic activity contracted in April and May 2022 because of stringent mobility restrictions introduced in major industrial regions such as Shanghai. Since late May, restrictions have eased gradually and activity has started to rebound. As downside risks remain high, the authorities continue to ease their fiscal and monetary policies. While credit demand stays weak in spite of the decline in interest rates, the current global environment and the risk of capital outflows may constrain the central bank’s room for maneuver.
    Since early 2022, inflation has been rising, albeit moderately, for the first time since 2014, while growth contracted in Q1. The yen has depreciated sharply due to the Bank of Japan’s very accommodating monetary policy, which is out of step with the other major central banks, who have already begun to tighten their monetary policy. In June 2022, BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda still thought it was “necessary” to maintain a yield curve control policy to boost core inflation to a “stable and sustainable” level. Yet currency depreciation aggravates imported inflation and further erodes household purchasing power. A few weeks before the legislative elections of 25 July, the government is likely to reinforce measures to support household purchasing power.   
    Until May, Eurozone growth has been relatively resilient to the series of shocks that have swept the region, but its pace should slow more significantly in the months ahead. We cannot rule out the possibility of a recession, even though that is not our base case given the numerous sources of growth: post Covid-19 catch-up potential, surplus savings, investment needs and fiscal support measures. Our scenario appears to signal stagflation (inflation will be much higher than growth in 2022 and 2023), but with the big difference that the unemployment rate is not expected to rise much. The ECB is preparing to begin raising its key policy rates to counter the inflationary shock. We are looking for a cumulative 250bp increase in the deposit rate, bringing it to 2% by fall 2023.
    Germany is one of the Eurozone countries hit hardest by the Russia-Ukraine war, which is leading towards feeble growth prospects and high inflation. German GDP is expected to barely increase by 1.3% in 2022, compared to a Eurozone average of 2.5%. Average annual GDP growth will remain 0.9% below the year-end 2019 level. At the same time, inflation is expected to reach 8.1% in 2022, driven up by high energy prices. Between the minimum wage hike promised by the government and expected wage increases in many sectors, wage growth should accelerate strongly in 2022, but may  not be sufficient to offset the inflationary shock. 
    The French economy is stuck between three developments with different effects: an inflation shock that is denting consumer spending, a negative supply shock (supply constraints in industry) and the lifting of public health restrictions (benefiting growth as of the second quarter, having held it back in the first quarter). Government measures that have limited inflation were unable to prevent negative growth in the first quarter. However, the positive impact of the lifting of public health restrictions and a rebound in purchasing power should allow for a recovery towards positive growth in the third quarter (+0.3% q/q).
    In contrast to the previous recessions, the Italian economy has already recovered what it lost in 2020. The carry over for 2022 is 2.6%. In Q1 2022, real GDP rose by 0.1%, with an annual growth rate above 6%. Value added for construction continued to increase, while manufacturing declined and services stagnated. The economic recovery mainly reflects the robust evolution of investment, while private consumption declined, as Italian households remained extremely cautious. Imports rose strongly, bringing the current account balance into negative territory. The economic recovery in 2021 was less intense in the Southern regions than in the Centre-North, thereby widening the gap between the two areas. 
    After a weaker economic rebound than its European neighbours in 2021, Spain is expected to report solid growth of more than 4% in 2022. Despite the Ukraine war’s impact on inflation and purchasing power, the job market remains on an uptrend, with 186,000 jobs created in the first five months of the year. This dynamic should extend into the summer months with a stronger recovery in tourism, although current disruptions affecting the airlines in Europe could undermine this outlook. Moreover, inflation might not peak until later in the year, since price increases for food and household appliances are currently gaining traction. 
    With an energy mix comprised of nearly 90% fossil fuels, the Netherlands have been hit by the full brunt of the sharp rise in oil and gas prices since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war. As a result, the Netherlands has one of the highest inflation rates in Europe. Even so, household consumption is resilient, and the majority of companies esteem that business will remain vigorous in the months ahead. Thanks to this strong performance, the government has been able to focus on a limited series of support measures while continuing to reduce the debt of public administrations. Yet the Netherlands also faces another type of inflation that is just as alarming: house price inflation. With too few houses to cover all of the country’s needs, residential housing prices have soared 29% since year-end 2019.
    Belgian GDP grew by 0.5% in the first quarter of 2022, as inflation continues to reach new all-time highs. Consumer confidence took a hit at the start of the Russian invasion, with growth subsequently likely to have come to a standstill. Index-linking of wages as an income-protection mechanism should eventually soften the inflation-induced blow to private consumption, but the international competitiveness of Belgian firms will suffer as a result. Against a backdrop of rising interest rates, fiscal consolidation remains crucial.
    After surging above 10% this spring, inflation will be the main headwind hampering Greek GDP growth in 2022. Yet the economy has proven to be resilient so far. Unemployment has been at the lowest rate since 2010, and GDP has rebounded robustly since the end of lockdown measures in 2020. A recession is unlikely this year, especially since tourism is primed for a solid summer season. On 20 August 2022, Greece will officially exit the European Commission’s enhanced economic surveillance programme, which it entered in June 2018. In May, the country also repaid the last of the IMF loans (EUR 1.9 bn) contracted during the 2011 crisis. Eleven years later, Greece is taking another step towards the normalisation of its economic system.
    Inflation continues, driven by factors specific to the UK economy. On the one side, we have a labour market with full employment, favouring wage rises. On the other side, we find the UK economy’s exposure to the consequences of the invasion of Ukraine putting considerable pressure on energy prices. Despite increasing its policy rate early, and then building on this with a succession of further hikes, the Bank of England is struggling to control rising prices. The government has little choice but to intervene to bolster household purchasing power. The economy is already slowing, and there is a risk it will worsen.
    Denmark stands out for its vigorous economic recovery, which was much stronger than that  in the other European countries. The Danish economy quickly returned to pre-crisis levels and even exceeded its pre-pandemic growth trend. Industry is in full expansion thanks to its positioning in high value-added market segments. Yet this dynamic momentum is threatened in the short term by surging inflation and job market pressures. The central bank has not yet begun the process of normalising monetary policy, although it plans to tighten monetary conditions gradually and progressively in the near future.
    After being severely hit by the Omicron variant, economic activity picked up again as of February, and the recovery is expected to continue with growth reaching 4% in 2022. Through no fault of its own, Norway is one of the big winners of the Russia-Ukraine conflict thanks to a substantial increase in oil and gas revenues, which are expected to reach NOK 1,500 bn in 2022 (about EUR 143 bn). Although inflation is milder than in the other European countries, the Norwegian central bank has expressed its determination to tighten monetary conditions as much as necessary to break the inflationary momentum. To bring inflation within its target range, NorgesBank plans to gradually raise its key deposit rate to 2.5% by the end of 2023.
    14 April 2022
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    The resilience of the global economy is tested by multiple shocks: rising Covid-19 infections in China, the war in Ukraine, the huge increase of several commodity prices, the prospect of aggressive monetary tightening in the US. The significant carry-over effect from last year is an element of support when assessing the outlook for annual growth this year. In addition, the drivers of final demand were supportive at the start of the year and in many cases still are. High inflation is weighing on consumer sentiment in the US and the Eurozone but fortunately, thus far, employment expectations of Eurozone companies remain at a very high level and in the US, the labour market remains very strong. It will play a fundamental role in shaping expectations about the growth and hence monetary policy outlook.
    With inflation soaring, the US Federal Reserve announced that it would accelerate the process of normalising its monetary policy. Held near the lower zero bound until March, the key policy rate should rise to roughly 2% or even higher by the end of the year. The Fed will also reduce the size of its balance sheet. Operating at full employment, the US economy seems to have recovered sufficiently from the health crisis to pass muster. Yet it is still sensitive to credit conditions and is not immunised against the impact of the war in Ukraine.
    After a strong start in 2022, China’s economic growth slowed in March. Headwinds are expected to persist in the very short term. Firstly, the rapid surge in the number of Covid-19 cases has led many regions to impose severe mobility restrictions. Secondly, the property market correction continues. Thirdly, producers and exporters will be affected by the impact of the war in Ukraine on commodity prices and world trade. The Chinese authorities are bound to accelerate the easing of economic policy.
    While the US Federal Reserve has begun raising its policy rate, the Bank of Japan continues to pursue a very accommodating monetary policy. The sharp depreciation of the yen leaves the BoJ less manoeuvring room to pursue its yield curve control policy. Some adjustments in its policy are expected. Economic support – both monetary and fiscal – will be maintained in 2022 in an environment that is especially tough for Japanese industrial companies, hard hit by global supply chain disruptions and the economic slowdown in China.
    The war in Ukraine compounds the ECB’s task of balancing the fight against inflationary risks with the need to support growth. At the monetary policy meeting on 10 March, inflation was the predominant concern and the central bank announced that net securities purchases under the Asset Purchase Programme (APP) would probably end in Q3. This paves the way for the first increase in the key deposit rate, although the timing of the move is still highly uncertain. The inflationary shock is spreading while growth faces ever greater threats. Even so, pre-existing cyclical momentum, excess savings, investment needs and fiscal support measures should all help ease the risk of stagflation.
    Of the Eurozone’s four major economies, Germany has the least positive growth outlook for 2022. Its economy is expected to grow by around 2% this year, whereas we are forecasting around 3% in Italy and France, and around 5% in Spain. Germany also has a lower Q4 2021 growth carry-over, greater exposure to the economic repercussions of the war in Ukraine, and pre-existing supply-chain problems in its manufacturing industry. The fall in the ifo index in March, particularly the business expectations component, illustrates well these headwinds, and this decline serves as a recession alert.  
    Inflation continued to rise in early 2022 to the point that it began to erode household confidence in March. These purchasing power problems foreshadow a decline in consumer spending. With fiscal support measures limiting the increase in inflation (by nearly 2 percentage points in April), growth is expected to remain slightly positive (0.3% in Q1 and 0.1% in Q2 according to our estimates).
    In Q4 2022, real GDP rose by 0.6%, after having increased by 2.7% and 2.5% in Q2 and Q3 respectively. This slowdown was widespread. Manufacturing stagnated and services suffered from the upsurge of Covid-19 cases. Uncertainty is fostered by inflation which turns out to be more persistent than expected. In March 2022, the consumer price index rose by 6.7% y/y. The deterioration of the economic environment has not affected the labour market yet. In the three months to February 2022, employment increased by 100,000 units almost completely recovering the pre-pandemic level. In the coming months, the economy is expected to benefit from the easing of social restrictions, while suffering from the negative impact of the international crisis, which is estimated to weigh on GDP growth both in Q1 and in Q2.
    Although Spain is not the European country with the highest “structural” exposure to the war in Ukraine, it has been hard hit by the energy price shock. Inflation will certainly exceed 10% year-on-year this spring. Higher petrol prices have triggered protests that have spread across the country, disrupting economic activity even though the impact on growth should be modest. Job creations were still resilient in Q1. Household confidence as well as business expectations of future orders both dropped sharply with the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, which will have an impact the dynamics of hiring. The recovery of the tourism industry will partially offset the loss of consumer spending due to the erosion of household purchasing power in Spain.
    Belgian GDP grew by 0.5% in the fourth quarter of last year, full-year growth amounting to 6.1%. Having completed a full recovery to pre-covid levels faster than expected, a gradual slowdown from above-potential growth was our base case scenario, even though (energy-)prices continued their upward trajectory and labour market pressures built up. The war in Ukraine will further derail these prospects. As a consequence, we lower our outlook for growth by 1 pp and increase that for inflation by more than 2 pp.
    The large victory of António Costa’s Socialist party in February’s legislative elections provides some welcome political stability in the current economic environment. Even though the inflationary shock in Portugal is not as strong as in most of the European countries, and despite support measures introduced by the government, confidence surveys declined sharply in March. It remains to be seen how much this deterioration will alter hiring dynamics. So far, the job market is still on a positive trajectory, with an unemployment rate this winter close to the levels reported in the early 2000s.
    Sweden has bet heavily on renewable energy sources, a strategy that is now paying off at a time when oil and gas prices are soaring. Although accelerating, Sweden’s inflation rate is still one of the lowest in Europe, at a little more than 4%. For Swedish households, the resulting loss of purchasing power has been mild, and partially offset by government support measures. But that is not the biggest worry: by invading Ukraine, Russia has shifted Swedish public opinion and rekindled the debate about joining NATO.
    Thwarted since the beginning of the year by a strong surge in the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic recovery is now threatened by the repercussions of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine. Given its geographic location, Finland is highly dependent on Russia for its energy imports, and its energy bill has already risen considerably. After reporting GDP growth of 3.3% in 2021, Finland is unlikely to meet the European Commission’s 2022 forecast of 3%.
    The time has passed for unlimited fiscal and monetary support in the UK, and priority is now being given to reducing deficits and lowering inflation. To counter the shock triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which promises to further increase the energy and food bills of UK households, the government’s measures to boost purchasing power seem to be rather mild so far. Consequently, we foresee a significant economic slowdown in 2022.
    16 December 2021
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    After last year’s sudden, deep and a-typical recession, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, this year has also been a-typical in several respects. Supply bottlenecks and supply disruption have been dominant themes throughout the year, acting as a headwind to growth, both directly but also indirectly, by causing a pick-up in inflation to levels not seen in decades. Under the assumption that the pandemic is gradually becoming less of an issue thanks to the vaccination levels, 2022 should see a normalisation in terms of growth, inflation and monetary policy.
    With the inflationary surge in the US showing no signs of stopping, the Federal Reserve is no longer taking a accommodative stance and could accelerate the tapering of quantitative easing. Inflation has also spread to asset prices: real estate and stock prices have climbed to peak levels. Unless the emergence of the Omicron variant radically changes the situation, everything points to a key rate hike in 2022, possibly as early as next summer.
    The crisis in the real estate sector, the “zero Covid” strategy in the midst of a resurgent pandemic, and the persistent fragility of household consumption are some of the main risk factors straining China’s economic growth. In the short term, the authorities are expected to cautiously step up monetary and fiscal policy support while maintaining their focus on rebalancing the property market, reducing financial risks and tightening the regulatory environment.
    The victory of the Liberal Democratic Party in the October general election allows prime minister Kishida to implement his policies. In November, he presented an unprecedented fiscal package amounting to some JPY55.7trn or 10% of GDP. In 2022, GDP growth could rise to 2.6% after 1.7% in 2021, largely driven by private consumption.
    The resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the emergence of the new Omicron variant make the ECB’s task even harder. Although growth should hold at a high level, it is expected to ease, and this trend could worsen, at least in the short term. Meanwhile inflation continues to soar, while becoming more broadbased, and the risk in the coming months is on the upside. Faced with greater uncertainty, the ECB is arguing in favour of patience and constancy while saying it is  ready to act in any direction. According to our scenario, which is somewhat optimistic in terms of growth and calls for persistent inflation, the ECB would end its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) in March 2022 and begin raising its key deposit rate in mid-2023.
    After strong growth in Q2 and Q3, the business climate deteriorated due to supply problems, the increase in prices and the surge in Covid-19 infections. Output is likely to stagnate around the turn of the year. The new government will put the emphasis on social and environmental policies, while fully respecting the fiscal framework, important for Germany. Private consumption will be the major engine for growth in 2022.
    Factors hampering growth in the short term are gaining strength (supply chain disruptions, surging inflation, and the resurgence in the Covid-19 pandemic), but the resilience of business sentiment through November as well as numerous targeted measures to support household purchasing power help allay fears. In Q4 2021, we are forecasting growth of 0.6%, although the risk is on the downside. In full-year 2021, growth is expected to average 6.7%. In 2022, it will remain a robust 4.2%, bolstered by the accommodative policy mix, the unblocking of excess savings, the catching-up of the services sector as well as strong investment and restocking needs.
    After a modest expansion in Q1 2021, real GDP rose by more than 2.5% q/q in both Q2 and in Q3. This recovery was widespread. In Q3, net exports added 0.5 percentage point to GDP growth thanks to a stronger rise in exports than imports. Thanks to the easing of social restrictions, consumption has further increased, while favourable financing conditions and fiscal incentives have supported investment. During the summer, the recovery expanded to the services sector, which benefitted from higher tourist receipts. Manufacturing production has recovered entirely from the 2020 decline, ending up 2% higher than in Q4 2019. Labour market conditions are not as good as the recovery would suggest.
    Despite a rather weak recovery in GDP, the Spanish economy has been much more resilient on the labour market front in 2021. Employment (November) and the participation rate (Q3) are at record levels. Inflation will be one of the biggest obstacles in 2022, the increase in production prices having accelerated markedly this autumn. Support for growth will remain a government priority in 2022. The country will benefit from a larger transfer of European funds that will help finance a record budget of EUR196 billion. The reduction in the government deficit will be again pushed into the background, the authorities mainly betting on economic growth to reduce the deficit-to-GDP ratio. 
    Q3 Belgian GDP growth came in at 2% q/q, which is well above consensus. GDP thus exceeded its pre-Covid level for the first time since the start of the pandemic. For this year, we estimate the growth rate to reach 6.1% in annual average terms, with a slower but still above-potential growth rate of 3.1% expected for next year. As it stands, the Belgian economy looks to have avoided additional scarring; however, with elevated public debt levels entering the limelight once again, the De Croo government has its work cut out.
    Once Covid-related restrictions are lifted, the economy is projected to rebound strongly in 2022, driven initially by household consumption. Next year, the fiscal stance is likely to tighten because of the gradual withdrawal of the special support measures. A major political risk is the possible falling apart of coalition between the conservative ÖVP and the Greens.
    Confronted like the rest of Europe by an upsurge in Covid-19 cases, Finland has reintroduced protective health measures that could temporarily dampen its recovery. Estimated at 3.4% in 2021, GDP growth could still reach 2.8% in 2022 according to the European Commission. After taking a reasonable approach to “whatever the cost”, the government is now seeking to consolidate public finances.
    The Greek economy has surprised on the upside so far in 2021. Real GDP growth is expected to exceed 7% this year. The unemployment rate has fallen to 13% in September. This improvement has allowed the banking sector to continue its clean-up, with a non-performing loan ratio close to the 20% threshold at the beginning of the summer. Difficulties on the economic, social and banking front remain amongst the most pressing in the European Union. This said, unless there is a further complication on the health front, Greece will go into 2022 on a much better basis than in previous years.
    To raise or not to raise interest rates? That is the question facing the Bank of England as inflation accelerates and the number of Covid-19 cases surges again, this time with Omicron, the new Covid-19 “variant of concern”. After rebounding strongly through summer 2021, economic growth has also lost the support of public spending, and is showing a few signs of levelling off.
    Faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, Norway managed to minimise the human toll as well as its economic losses. In 2021, the country largely benefited from the rebound in natural gas and oil prices. Activity has already exceeded pre-pandemic levels, the housing market is booming, and the public accounts have swung back into their usual surpluses. One of the very first central banks to raise its key rates, Norges Bank esteems that the current situation is in keeping with the normalisation of monetary policy. Yet the roadmap still depends on the health situation, which like elsewhere in the world, is deteriorating.
    05 October 2021
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    Recent data show business and consumer sentiment has peaked and real GDP growth is expected to slow down whilst remaining well above potential. A key factor in this respect is the self-reinforcing interaction between spending, company profits and employment, against a background of easy monetary and financial conditions. In using the popular metaphor, until recently, the economic sky looked quite blue but clouds have been gathering. The message of central banks should become a bit more hawkish, in the US, political disagreement influences the economic agenda of the Biden administration and China is going through a major adjustment phase. Most importantly, supply bottlenecks continue to weigh on growth whereas the jump in gas and energy prices is raising concerns that inflation might stay high for somewhat longer.
    On the whole, the US economy has recovered very quickly, albeit unequally, from the loss of business caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Exceptional Federal transfers have fuelled a spectacular rebound in private consumption, so much so that it is nearly overheating. Faced with a global parts shortage and hiring troubles, companies are having a hard time meeting demand. Prices have come under pressure. For the US Federal Reserve, the time has come to begin withdrawing monetary support. The debt ceiling has just been hit, and major budget bills remain in suspense until an agreement to raise the limit can be reached with the Republicans.
    The Chinese economy is in the midst of a period of major adjustments. They arose after Beijing tightened regulations in a variety of sectors, from housing to certain new technologies and activities linked to the societal challenges facing the country. The adjustments can also be attributed to the debt excess problem of some state-owned and private enterprises, and reflect the authorities’ determination to tighten their access to credit and to clean up practices in the financial sector. As a result, an increasing number of corporates is defaulting, and the troubles of the property developer Evergrande are symptomatic of the changes under way. For the authorities, the challenge is to maintain control over these events and to contain their negative impact on confidence in the financial system, on credit conditions for other economic agents and on economic growth.
    The economy is likely to rebound in Q4 as health restrictions are being eased. Moreover, despite supply chain disruptions, the manufacturing sector should profit from the worldwide recovery. The consumption boom is likely to peter out soon, as wages growth is to remain sluggish. The main domestic support will come from the government spending, backed up by Bank of Japan (BoJ) ’s yield curve control policy, and business investment thanks to improved profitability. Prime Minister Suga’s resignation, although welcomed by financial markets, has rekindled fears that Japan may return to the “revolving door” era, in which the country changes prime minister every year. 
    After rebounding vigorously in Q2 (+2.2% q/q), GDP growth is expected to maintain the same dynamic pace in Q3. Admittedly, supply-side constraints have just chipped away a few tenths of a percentage point of growth from our June forecast. September’s business climate surveys are showing more traces of these tensions, especially in industry, and in Germany in particular. Even so, the survey results are still holding at high levels. Growth in the Eurozone will get a boost from the monetary and fiscal accommodation, the freeing of forced savings built-up by households, the recovering job market and the need for investment. We expect 2022 growth to be slightly higher than in 2021 (5.2% and 5%, respectively, in annual average terms). However, the optimism of the big picture is somewhat tarnished by the simultaneous surge in inflation, even though a rather large part is only temporary. The ECB is expected to continue giving priority to growth. It will only make minimal efforts to begin normalising monetary policy by letting the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) expire in March 2022. Moreover, it should be offset by a larger and more flexible Asset Purchase Programme (APP). But the ECB is also signalling that is being vigilant about inflationary risks.
    After a strong recovery in Q2 and Q3, activity in the coming months could slow due to supply disruptions and sharp rising input prices. After his victory in the legislative elections, Olaf Scholz enters negotiations with the Greens and the liberals on forming a new coalition. The policies are likely to focus on protecting the environment and raising low wages. At the European level, the policies of the new coalition should not be very different from those of Angela Merkel.
    Despite April’s lockdown, French GDP rose strongly in Q2 2021, up 1.1% q/q. The lockdown’s negative impact was very mild, and the economy rebounded strongly in June. Q3 growth is expected to reach 2.2% q/q, on the one hand buoyed by Q2 strong momentum, but on the other hand curbed by the supply-side constraints at work. In business climate surveys, optimism still prevails, although it has been fading since June. In Q4, GDP growth is expected to virtually close the gap, covering the last percentage point before economic activity returns to 100% of pre-crisis levels. This would bring average annual growth to 6.3% in 2021. In 2022, GDP growth is expected to return to more normal levels although it will remain strong, bolstered by the fiscal impulse. In addition to the downside risk of the health situation and the inflation surge, there are new fears about the scope of China’s economic slowdown. Yet growth could also surprise on the upside thanks to the freeing of surplus household savings, the preservation of the financial health of companies, and fiscal stimulus measures.
    The economic recovery has gradually gained momentum, becoming increasingly more widespread for various components and sectors. The improvement in the overall scenario has boosted optimism among companies, supporting business investment. While manufacturing activity had begun to increase in H2 2020, the services sector benefited from an upswing in consumption in Q2, despite the still disappointing international tourism trends. A wind of surprising optimism continues to blow through the Italian real-estate market, driven mainly by home purchases by many families keen to improve their housing conditions. In Q2 2021, residential sales recorded +70% growth compared to Q2 2020, and +26.1% compared to Q2 2019.
    After the disappointing economic growth reported in H1 2021, Spain should record a robust rebound in activity in H2, assuming the health situation does not deteriorate. The inflow of tourists has picked up (but remains historically low) and employment has recovered. Yet inflationary risks are intensifying. With the surge in energy prices, the government was forced to take drastic measures to reduce the energy bill for households, which will weigh on public finances. Faced with a persistently uncertain environment, the government is bound to maintain an expansionist policy when it unveils its 2022 budget this fall, even though the health situation is more favourable for the moment thanks to the high level of vaccinations. The socialist government’s top priority will be to consolidate the economic recovery, notably by protecting household purchasing power in the face of rising energy costs.
    Following the gradual lifting of health restrictions, the economy rebounded strongly in Q2 and this dynamism continued in Q3. Despite the favourable economic climate and the satisfactory state of public finances, the political parties are still struggling to form a government even six months after the legislative elections. Nonetheless, the outlook remains bright, especially thanks to the rapid expansion of world trade.
    Belgian GDP increased by 1.7% in the second quarter. Consequently, quarterly GDP came within 2% of its pre-covid level. We expect full year growth to come in at 5.5% this year, slowing down to 3.0% in 2022. Increased government spending helped stave off worse outcomes for the labour market and Belgian firms, which resulted in a quick rebound in investment-related spending by all sectors. Private consumption is rebounding more gradually against a backdrop of GDP growth slowing down.
    Portugal’s vaccination campaign seems to be paying off. It is the country that has vaccinated the most people in Europe – and one of the most advanced in the world – with nearly 85% of the population fully vaccinated at the end of September. The number of Covid-19 cases has fallen sharply after a surge in June-July due to the spread of the Delta variant. Portugal’s economic recovery was slower than in most of the other European countries through Q2 2021, in part because it was hit by a more severe wave of the pandemic last winter. However, employment and housing activity have picked up strongly. As in several European countries, new risks have arisen as the pandemic wanes. Banking system risks must not be neglected: with a large share of loans currently under moratorium, the end of the Covid-19 crisis could be bumpy. 
    After paying a heavy toll to the Covid 19 pandemic, the UK is getting back on its feet. Now that more than 80% of the adult population has been vaccinated, the UK economy was able to reopen for business this summer and to operate almost normally despite the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. Just as the recovery is running up against supply-side constraints, the government of Boris Johnson is removing fiscal support measures as it proclaims the end of “whatever the cost”. Euphoric so far, the recovery should calm down somewhat by the end of the year. 
    Initially tempted to experiment with herd immunity to combat Covid-19, the Scandinavian country with the highest number of Covid-related deaths has largely converted to vaccinations, and the economy is on its way to returning to normal. Sweden is taking advantage of its specialisation in machinery and transport equipment, for which there is currently strong global demand. Dynamic exports are boosting corporate investment. As the Riksbank prepares to end its securities purchasing policy, the Swedish government is trying to avoid withdrawing its fiscal support too abruptly. 
    With relatively few Covid-19-related deaths, and after what proved to be a mild recession in 2020, Denmark is one of the countries that has pulled through the pandemic the best. Economic activity has already returned to pre-crisis levels, the cyclical environment was still going strong over the summer months, and the spread of the Delta variant did not pose much of a threat to a largely vaccinated population. The rapid economic recovery is already revealing a few tensions in terms of production capacity and employment. The central bank is not very alarmed and is expected to maintain the status quo, with negative money market rates. The government has begun to better target its subsidies. 
    06 July 2021
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    The first half of the year has seen a broad-based improvement in business and consumer sentiment in advanced economies but elevated levels of business surveys reduce the likelihood of further significant increases. The third quarter is expected to see the peak in quarter-over-quarter GDP growth this year. Nevertheless, over the remainder of the forecast horizon – which runs until the end of next year – quarterly growth is expected to stay above potential. This favourable outlook for the real economy brings challenges for financial markets. Surprising to the upside in terms of earnings will become more difficult. Moreover, there is the question of the inflation outlook. For the time being, both the Federal Reserve and markets are relaxed about it but we should expect that over the coming months, the market sensitivity to growth and inflation data will be higher than normal in view of what they would imply for the Fed’s policy stance. 
    With GDP growth of nearly 7% this year, the US economy is in the midst of a spectacular but uneven recovery, erasing the losses generated by the pandemic, but also leaving numerous workers behind. Fuelled by rising commodity prices and surging consumption, inflation has reached a peak of 5%, the highest since 2008. Esteeming that this flare up will be short lived, the Federal Reserve (Fed) is being tolerant and will forego a preventative tightening of monetary policy. Its top priority is to see the recovery spread to all sectors of the economy and to restore full employment in the labour market.
    Economic growth rebounded very rapidly following the Covid-19 shock, but this rebound has also been characterised by mixed performances between sectors and between demand components. Growth of industrial production and exports accelerated vigorously until early 2021 and is now gradually returning to normal. Meanwhile, the services sector and private consumption were slower to rebound, and their recovery still proved to be fragile in Q2 2021. Consequently, the authorities are likely to be increasingly cautious about tightening economic policy. Even so, they should still give priority to slowing down domestic credit growth and adjusting the fiscal deficits.
    The Covid-19 pandemic did not hit the Japanese economy as hard as the other advanced countries. In 2020, GDP growth did not contract as much as in other places. Yet a slow vaccination roll out and the lack of confidence of various economic agents are straining the momentum of Japan’s recovery. After a strong performance in late 2020, the Japanese economy is lagging somewhat compared to the United States and Europe. Consumer confidence – a key ingredient for a robust economic recovery – is still low compared to pre-crisis levels. This atmosphere is dragging down private consumption and the dynamics of the tradeable services sector as well. The services industry is having a hard time swinging back into growth. In this persistently tough environment, inflation will continue to hold near 0%, far from the central bank’s 2% target. Monetary policy will remain accommodating and unchanged in 2021 and 2022, even though the Bank of Japan might allow long-term sovereign rates to rise to the upper range of 0.25%.
    The Eurozone economy is bouncing back. From a macroeconomic perspective, the region is closing the gap on the losses accumulated since spring 2020 more quickly than expected just a few months ago. Unless a new wave of the pandemic breaks out due to the spread of Covid-19 variants, Eurozone GDP should return to pre-crisis levels by the end of the year. Accelerated vaccination campaigns and the gradual lifting of health restrictions are reducing uncertainty and boosting the confidence of economic agents. Consumers, who have adapted to restrictive health measures, are playing a key role. Despite these favourable dynamics, public policies are remaining cautious. From a monetary perspective, the European Central Bank recently expressed some optimism concerning the Eurozone’s capacity to rebound, although for the moment it is refusing to begin tightening monetary policy. As to fiscal policy, investors welcomed the European Commission’s first bond issue to finance the Next Generation EU recovery plan.
    After a sharp contraction in Q1 2020, the economic climate improved significantly in Q2, as the domestic economy gradually opens up. In 2020, the government was very successful in limiting the impact of the coronavirus crisis for households and businesses. In 2021, the fiscal policy stance will remain very accommodative, and covid-19 support measures could amount to 3% of GDP. As the federal election takes place on 26 September, the budget for 2022 will be determined by the incoming government. Opinion polls point to a coalition between the CDU/CSU and the Greens, which should propel climate change to the top of the agenda. The economy is projected to grow robustly in 2021 and 2022. On the domestic side, the main engine of support is private consumption. The manufacturing sector should benefit from the EU’s Next Generation programme. The rapid recovery could rekindle inflationary pressures and the ECB’s monetary stance might become too loose for Germany. 
    Based on May and June business confidence surveys, the French economy has been rebounding more vigorously than expected from the third lockdown. We have raised our Q2 growth forecast, from near zero to near 1% QoQ. In Q3, the mechanistic rebound would bring growth to about 3% QoQ. Growth is expected to ebb thereafter as the catching-up effects dissipate, although it should remain high, bolstered by the fiscal impulse. The downside of the vigorous upsurge in demand is that it is squeezing the supply side, which is less responsive. The ensuing supply chain constraints, higher input prices and hiring difficulties are all sources of friction that must be monitored since they could hamper the recovery. GDP growth could average 6% in 2021 (an optimistic forecast that is a half point higher than the June 2021 consensus), and will remain strong at an estimated 4.6% in 2022. In our eyes, the economic risks are balanced: the unlocking of forced savings that have accumulated over the past year is an upside risk, while supply-side tensions and pricing pressures are downside risks. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has diminished significantly, the health risk has not completely disappeared given the rapid spread of variants. 
    At the beginning of 2021, the economic growth surprised on the upside. In Q1, real GDP rose by 0.1%. Private consumption declined, reflecting the disappointing evolution of income and a still high propensity to save, investment rose by almost 4%. The recovery turned out to be uneven, with industry and construction seeing a quicker rebound, while services continued to suffer. The economic growth is expected to strengthen in the coming months. The acceleration of the vaccination programme and a significant improvement in the health outlook have boosted optimism among consumers and businesses. In order to make the recovery long lasting, Italy has to improve the quality of human capital to balance the decline in productivity also due to an elderly work force. 
    Just when the lights seemed to be turning green on the health front, the spread of the Delta variant in Spain, as elsewhere in Europe, is a cause of concern. The risks remain currently under control and economic activity should record a significant upturn this summer. The easing of travel restrictions and the introduction of the European health pass since 25 June should allow the Spanish tourist industry to lift itself back up, which would have positive knock-on effects on consumption and employment. Even so, and despite the fact that growth is expected to bounce back strongly, to 6.0% in 2021, the Covid-19 will continue to leave its mark on Spain’s public finances. After a record year in 2020, the government deficit could remain at over 8% of GDP this year and remain elevated until 2022 at least. The European Commission’s approval of Spain’s recovery plan will, however, allow Madrid to receive the first round of European subsidies. Thus EUR9 billion in grants could be allocated in July, with a further EUR10 billion unlocked by the end of 2021.    
    The Belgian economy grew at an above-potential rate in the first quarter of this year, and looks to be on course to maintain this pace throughout the year. Full year growth is expected to come in at 5.1%. Private sector sentiment is strong and the labour market is emerging from the health crisis virtually unharmed, with the unemployment rate still hovering at around 5%. Public finances, largely responsible for the current strong situation through extensive support measures, need to be improved over the medium-term, as the government aims to capitalise on the recovery to fix other, more structural issues. 
    Although Finland was one of the European countries hit the least by the Covid-19 pandemic, its economic recovery was nonetheless pushed back by a third wave of contaminations in late winter 2020 and early spring 2021. The economy will rebound in the second half of this year, buoyed by consumption and the upturn in global trade. GDP growth should range between 2.5% and 3% in 2021 and 2022. Very concerned about the solidity of its public finances, the country saw its public debt swell by about 10 points of GDP last year while the deficit rose to 5.4% of GDP.
    The Greek economy is proving resilient, with the recovery through to Q1 2021 being faster than in most other Eurozone members. This has been driven primarily by the very significant increase in goods exports. The spread of the Delta variant in Europe represents a threat to the recovery in the tourism sector, which is essential to bolster growth and employment over the coming months. Pending this, the labour market shows continued fragility. The unemployment rate climbed to 16.3% in Q1, whilst the number of inactive workers jumped, partly due to the effect of rising numbers of workers on temporary unemployment. Creating employment and reducing the unemployment rate remains the country’s major challenge, but Greece should continue to benefit in the short and medium term from favourable financing conditions, notably thanks to the support of the ECB.
    No sooner had the divorce agreement with the European Union been signed than the UK started disputing its terms. On 16 March, the British government was formally notified by the European Union for breaches of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland and violation of the duty of good faith. The final outcome, which can include sanctions, is yet to be decided. The fact remains that Brexit, described as a “historic mistake” by the remaining 27 members of the EU, appears as nothing more or less than what it is: a clear break. Admittedly, it will not stop the UK economy from recovering. Having managed to avoid tariffs, become a convert to “whatever it takes“ and now being well on the way to winning out over Covid-19, the United Kingdom, like other countries, is enjoying euphoric economic conditions. Yet beyond the short term outlook, the benefits it could get from its decision to go its own way are still to be proved.
    The very accommodative policies implemented by the Federal Council and the Swiss National Bank have been very successful in limiting the economic consequences of the pandemic. In 2020, economic activity contracted by 3%. The latest business cycle indicators point to a strong rebound in the second half of the year. The recovery is broad-based. Private consumption will be one of the main engines of growth, as households will spend part of the savings accumulated during the crisis. The breakdown of the negotiations between the Swiss Confederation and the EU, and the possible introduction of a global minimum corporation tax rate are likely to undermine the country’s competitiveness in the medium term.  
    Largely spared by the Covid-19 pandemic, Norway reported one of the mildest recessions in Europe in 2020 (-2.5%). The economy is poised for a vigorous recovery in the second half, driven by the acceleration of global trade and the rebound in household consumption. In the light of these favourable prospects, and concerned about the acceleration in house prices, Norges Bank intends to begin raising its key rate gradually as of September, even though core inflation is low.
    08 April 2021
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    In many countries the number of new Covid-19 cases has begun rising again, forcing governments to maintain or tighten health restrictions. This is the case for the Eurozone, among others, where a true rebound in growth and demand has been postponed yet again. The timing of the recovery will depend essentially on the effectiveness of restrictive measures and the acceleration of vaccination campaigns, but also on spillovers effects with some of its trading partners whose economies are picking up more rapidly. The United States is one such country thanks to its successful vaccination campaign and the enormous recovery plan that has just been launched. America’s influence is not limited to providing greater opportunities for European exporters. The upturn in US bond yields has partially carried over to long-term rates in the Eurozone, pushing them higher. This trend largely reflects higher inflation expectations, although the Federal Reserve is convinced that the surge in inflation will be short-lived. Companies and households should welcome the bond markets’ jitters, which clearly signal the sentiment that the economy really is improving. 
    The US economy has taken off. Bolstered by the easing of the Covid-19 pandemic as much as by unprecedented fiscal support, GDP will soar by at least 6% in 2021, surpassing the pre-crisis level of 2019. Inflation will accelerate and temporarily overshoot the Federal Reserve’s 2% target. Nonetheless, the central bank will not deviate from its accommodating stance. The Fed’s top priority is  employment, which continues to bear the scars of the crisis and has a long way to go before making up for all of the lost ground. As a result, monetary conditions will remain accommodating, both for the economy and the markets, even at the risk of encouraging some excessive behaviour.
    At the end of the annual “Two Sessions”, China’s major political event, Beijing announced its economic targets for 2021 as well as the priorities of its new five-year plan. By setting this year’s real GDP growth target at simply “more than 6%”, which is lower than forecasts, the authorities are signalling that the economic recovery following the Covid-19 crisis is no longer the main focus of concern. In the short term, they will continue to cautiously tighten monetary policy and gradually scale back fiscal support measures. Above all, the authorities have affirmed their medium-term development strategy, which aims to boost innovation and drastically expand China’s technological independence.
    As in other countries the world round, Japan reported a record-breaking recession in 2020 and the lack of consumer confidence, stifling domestic demand, could slow the dynamics of its economic recovery. Japan’s vaccination campaign has been relatively slow, notably compared to the United States, but the country was not hit as hard by the pandemic as other countries. Faced with expectations of sluggish demand, Japanese companies will continue to be reticent about making investment decisions. This outlook could undermine Japan’s already weakened growth potential. Tighter financing conditions would be especially harmful, and the Bank of Japan will remain vigilant in the current environment of rising interest rates.
    The pandemic continues to spread rapidly within the Eurozone member states, and many uncertainties remain. Yet the most recent economic data are encouraging. Far from claiming victory, these signals nonetheless raise expectations of an accelerated economic recovery as of H2 2021. The greatest hope lies in the successful rollout of vaccination campaigns among national populations. The authorities will remain at the bedside of an ailing Eurozone economy, ready to help through public policies while trying to avoid any tightening moves that might hamper the recovery process. In terms of monetary policy, for example, Christine Lagarde announced that the ECB would step up the pace of securities purchases, which means that financing conditions are being closely monitored.
    After a difficult start of the year, business cycle indicators improved markedly in March on the hope that the worst of the Covid-19 crisis is behind us. GDP is projected to reach the pre-Covid-19 level by the end of 2022. Many of the government support measures will remain in place this year. Fiscal policy for 2022 will depend on the outcome of the general election in September. After a significant weakening of the Christian-Democrats in the polls, a coalition between Greens, social-democrats, and liberals cannot be excluded. The business sector has been severely weakened during the crisis, but this is unlikely to have long-term consequences.
    Contrary to what we were led to expect in late 2020, the discovery of vaccines did not end the stop-and-go nature of the recovery. In early 2021, due to the emergence of variants and the slow pace of the vaccination campaign, the exit from the crisis continues to follow a jagged trajectory. The light at the end of the tunnel seemed to be getting closer (Q4 2020 GDP did not decline as sharply as feared; a technical recession was apparently avoided in Q1 2021, with feeble but positive growth) but now it is fading again (the rebound has been pushed back until Q3, with Q2 growth verging on zero, and it could even slip into negative territory). The strong upturn in March confidence surveys is good but fleeting news, because it does not integrate the recent series of tightening of lockdown measures. We should expect a relapse in April before a turnaround in May, which we hope will be sustainable this time, thanks to the acceleration of vaccinations and support from the policy mix. The expected rebound in H2 would lift growth to an average annual rate of 6.1% in 2021, followed by 4.4% in 2022.
    In 2020, real GDP fell by 8.9%, with almost 2.5 million of full-time equivalent jobs lost. The decline in consumption was the main driver of the recession, accounting for three fourths of the economic downturn. Stagnating incomes and the lack of confidence increased households’ propensity to save. The services sector was the most severely affected by the crisis, with value added declining by 8.1%, while manufacturing benefitted from the moderate recovery of exports. The problems raised by the pandemic combined with -and worsened- structural issues that had been slowing down the country’s economic growth up to now. In the years to come it will be hard to implement a solid growth pattern without decisive interventions that would foster innovation and productivity.
    Economic growth remains extremely fragile in early 2021. In addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, Spain was hit by Storm Filomena in early January, which has had a direct negative impact, notably on consumption: both automobile and retail sales plummeted this winter. We now expect GDP growth to be flat in Q1. Even so, the economy could rebound strongly either this spring or more certainly by summer, although we cannot completely rule out the downside risks associated with the UK variant and a possible fourth wave of the coronavirus in Spain. We are forecasting real GDP growth of 5.9% in 2021 and 5.6% in 2022, following a record contraction of 10.8% in 2020.
    Thanks to healthy government finances and a light lockdown strategy, the Netherlands weathered the crisis better than the surrounding countries. Nevertheless, the economy was in a mild recession in Q1 2021. Economic sentiment indicators point to rapid recovery in the second half of the year. Despite the clear victory of the outgoing government at the general election in March, the formation of a new coalition is in turmoil. Doubt has increased whether Mark Rutte can lead his fourth government in succession. The main task of the coalition is to put a recovery programme on the rails.
    The Belgian economy shrunk by 6.3% in 2020. This amounts to the biggest post-war decline on record. A better-than-expected fourth quarter pushed the final numbers up somewhat and will have a positive effect on the yearly growth rate for the whole of 2021, which we see at 3.7%. Consumption suffered during the second lockdown at year’s end and is expected to dip again in April, as the government reinstated shopping on appointment only and instructed schools to extend the Easter holiday break. Unemployment increased significantly but less than was feared and the long-anticipated wave of bankruptcies hasn’t quite materialised so far. Tough choices lie ahead for the multi-party government, which should also focus on reining in its budget deficit in the years to come.
    Portugal was one of the European countries hit hardest by the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic this winter. The government reinstated a “strict” lockdown that drastically reduced the spread of the virus. A very gradual reopening plan was launched on 15 March and will end on 3 May. Hopes for a solid economic recovery hinge on the vaccination campaign currently underway, but like elsewhere in the European Union, it is progressing at a slow pace. The success of the UK vaccination programme nonetheless raises promising prospects for the recovery of Portugal’s tourism sector, which is highly dependent on British tourists. Real GDP could rebound by as much as 5-5.5% in 2021, after contracting by 7.6% in 2020.
    Gambling has risks, but sometimes you win big. No stranger to risky gambles (Brexit, herd immunity to Covid-19…) the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, can now claim that one of his wagers – betting early and big on vaccines – has allowed his country to be amongst the first to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Having been in strict lockdown since the beginning of the year, and whilst also suffering from a collapse in trade with the European Union, the economy now seems to have touched bottom; economic surveys and mobility reports promise better days ahead. Both fiscal and monetary policy will help support the recovery, before thoughts move to addressing the deficit, with the first turn of the screw expected in 2023.
    After a second, particularly long and severe wave of Covid 19 in late 2020, Sweden has been dealing with a third wave of the pandemic since mid-February. Although the vaccination campaign is unfolding satisfactorily, the resurgence of the pandemic risks pushing back the expected profile of the recovery. Monetary and fiscal policy will remain accommodating as long as necessary.
    With relatively few deaths and only a mild decline in GDP in 2020, Denmark has been fairly resilient in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. To counter a second wave of the virus, more restrictive health measures had to be introduced in early 2021, which will push back the timing of the recovery, albeit without jeopardising it. With its vaccination campaign unfolding smoothly and the extension of fiscal support measures, the country is well positioned to exit the crisis. To better control the krone’s peg to the euro, Denmark’s central bank has made major adjustments to its monetary policy.
    16 December 2020
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    Until the very end, 2020 has been a difficult year, to say the least. However, there are reasons to be cautiously hopeful about the economy in 2021. Vaccination should reduce the uncertainty about the economic outlook. Ongoing fiscal and monetary support is also important. However, more than ever, caution is necessary in making forecasts. Reaching herd immunity may take longer than expected and some of the economic consequences of the pandemic may only manifest themselves over time.
    The 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden, will face a difficult mandate. At the time of his inauguration on 20 January 2021, he will inherit a sluggish economy, as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to worsen with a human toll of tragic proportions. Looking beyond the health crisis, the new Democratic administration will have to act on political and social stages that have never seemed so antagonistic at the dawn of a new decade. With his reputation as a man of dialogue, Joe Biden will need all of his long political experience and skills in the art of compromise to try to heal America’s divisions.
    Economic activity has rebounded rapidly since March and has gradually spread from industry to services. Infrastructure and real estate projects continue to drive investment, but it has also begun to strengthen in the manufacturing sector as well, encouraged by solid export performance. Lastly, private consumption is still lagging, but yet has picked up vigorously since the summer. Whereas fiscal policy should continue to be growth-supportive in the short term, the monetary authorities are expected to adjust their priorities and return their focus on controlling financial risks. Credit conditions should be tightened slowly, especially via the introduction of new prudential rules. Corporate defaults are likely to increase alongside efforts to clean up the financial sector.
    As in other economies across the globe, Japan will report a record-breaking recession in 2020. The path to a full economic recovery will be probably longer because growth would remain very subdued. According to our forecast, Japanese GDP will not return to pre-crisis levels before the end of 2022. Domestic demand remains sluggish due to corporate investment, although household consumption seems to be picking up again. For the moment, Japanese exports are benefiting from China’s robust economic rebound. Fiscal policy, the front line of defence, will continue to receive support from the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy. There are also talks of a new fiscal package.
    The resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic halted the Eurozone’s economic recovery. It looks like year-end 2020 will be harder than expected due to new social distancing measures and lockdown restrictions set up in most of the member states. Industrial output remains low compared to pre-crisis levels and companies in the tradeable services sector continue to be at the forefront of restrictions. As to the first half of 2021, uncertainty is still high. Faced with this environment, the European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to announce new monetary stimulus measures following its 10 December meeting as fiscal support measures are gradually reduced.
    The second lockdown interrupted an already stalling recovery. However, the business climate is likely to improve soon on the expectation that several vaccines might soon be available. Inflation is currently in negative territory because of the VAT cut, but will soon turn positive again once the measure expires on 1 January 2021. Because of the second lockdown, the 2021 budget will show a larger deficit than assumed in September, EUR180 bn or 5.2% of GDP. In Q2, the household savings rate rose to 20.1%, a new historical high. Once the pandemic is over, the savings rate could drop considerably if consumers catch up on postponed purchases. 
    The huge recessionary shock in H1 was followed by an equally spectacular rebound of economic activity in Q3, with an 18.7% jump in real GDP, although it will remain short-lived. The recovery has turned out to be W-shaped: GDP is expected to fall again in Q4 because of lockdown measures reintroduced on 30 October to tackle the second wave of the covid-19 pandemic. However, the second V should be less pronounced than the first: the decline should be smaller because the lockdown measures are less stringent, and the rebound should also be smaller because restrictions will remain in place and the economy is weakened. There is still a long way to go, but the arrival of vaccines means that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The first positive effects of the France Relance plan should also underpin growth, possibly taking GDP back to its pre-crisis level in 2022.
    Following an impressive decline in the first half of 2020, the Italian economy rebounded over the summer. Value added rose strongly in construction and manufacturing, while the recovery in the services sector was less substantial. Favourable indications also come from house prices invalidating the darkest scenario depicted at the beginning of the pandemic. To contain the second wave of infections, the Italian Government has taken restrictive measures, with negative effects on activity. The economy is expected to decline in Q4 again. This contraction should be less significant than in the first half of the year, with only a moderate impact on 2020 growth, while the carry- over in 2021 should be more sizeable.
    Forecasts made at the start of the year will probably turn out to be accurate. Spain is set to be the Eurozone’s economy hardest hit by the Covid-19 epidemic. We forecast GDP to shrink by 11.8% in 2020 before rebounding by 7.0% in 2021. The social situation has worsened again this year, forcing the government to introduce new large-scale welfare benefits (e.g. minimum living income), which will be reinforced in 2021. Spain’s huge €140 billion stimulus plan will support the recovery, should raise the country’s potential growth and create jobs. But the structural budget deficit is widening. Once the Covid-19 crisis is over and the recovery underway, Brussels will intensify the pressure on the Government to speed up certain key reforms, and in particular regarding the country’s pension system.
    We expect the Belgian economy to lose 7.2% of its size this year, followed by a 3.8% increase next year. After a strong recovery in the third quarter, private consumption is expected to decline again at the end of this year, but not as much as during the first lockdown. So far, structural damages seem to have been mainly avoided, with bankruptcies close to their normal level and unemployment rates stable since the beginning of the year. Government support measures have no doubt played a crucial role in this but once these measures are discontinued, some long term scarring will take place.
    The government decreed a second lockdown in November due to the rapid rise in Covid-19 infections. Business indicators point to a fall in activity. Thanks to the short-time work scheme, unemployment has only risen moderately. Moreover, inflation has remained at a relative high level compared to other eurozone countries. In 2021, fiscal policy remains very accommodative and the deficit might only shrink to 6.3% of GDP. The economy is projected to rebound by 3.5% in 2021 compared with a slump in 2020 (-7.5%). A major downside risk is the increased indebtedness of the non-financial corporate sector. 
    In Q2 2020, Finland stood out from the rest of Europe as the country that reported the smallest decline in GDP – “only” –4.4%. Yet the ensuing recovery was less vigorous than for its EU neighbours, and Finland will surely continue to underperform in the months ahead. Even so, the Finnish economy is still one of the most resilient in Europe, thanks notably to the relatively feeble spread of the virus and robust support from the fiscal and monetary authorities.
    Greece’s economic recovery will be fraught with uncertainty in 2021. The Covid-19 hit to activity could last longer in the tourism industry – a key sector for the country – than in other sectors. The decline in tourist inflows in summer 2020 has limited significantly the rebound in Q3 GDP, which was much weaker than in other European countries. Some confidence indicators, particularly regarding the unemployment outlook, have worsened during the autumn. The conservative government plans to use the large amounts of money allocated by the European recovery fund to finance its stimulus plan, details of which will be finalised early next year. Despite that, public debt is likely to remain above 200% of GDP by the end of 2021, which is very worrying from a long-run perspective.
    The record fall in UK GDP in the second quarter gave way to unprecedented growth in the third, and the news that an effective vaccine against Covid-19 will soon be widely available suggests that the economy could start its definitive recovery in 2021. However, the UK is not out of the woods yet. Given that a second national lockdown was introduced in England in November, there is little doubt that economic activity will drop again in the fourth quarter. Moreover, the strength of the recovery is, because of Brexit, more uncertain than elsewhere. This not only because of the UK’s decision to leave the EU’s single market and customs union, but also due to continued uncertainty over whether a free-trade agreement will be found. 
    Since March 2020, Sweden has adopted a more relaxed approach to the COVID19 outbreak as no lockdown has been imposed to the population. However, the recent pick up in new infections could slow the recovery down in Q4 2020. Pervasive uncertainty will continue to hamper exports and corporate investment, while household consumption is fuelling the economic recovery. In 2021, the Riksbank will maintain and expand its vast asset purchasing programme. New expansionist measures are expected to bolster an already accommodating fiscal policy. 
    Norway was not hit as hard by the Covid-19 pandemic as most its European neighbours. Moreover, the economy has been able to count on considerable support from the fiscal and monetary authorities. In its draft budget for 2021, presented in October, the government has pledged to maintain an expansionist policy, even if spending will logically not be as high as in 2020. What’s more, faced with an upturn in Covid-19 cases and tighter restriction measures, the central bank has adopted a more conciliatory tone. 
    The Danish economy has quickly rebounded after the reopening of the borders but a complete catch-up will take time since the resurgence of the Coronavirus epidemic keeps the country’s economic situation uncertain. Services exports were hard hit by the crisis in 2020, but are offset by a surge in Danish household consumption, supported by government measures. Fiscal policy should remain accommodative in 2021 and the Central Bank of Denmark will continue to defend its peg with the euro.
    30 September 2020
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    For several weeks now, the improvement in economic data has been slowing down. On the one hand, this loss of momentum is unsurprising as it followed a substantial rebound which could not last. On the other hand, this fall could reflect the economic reaction to the rise in the number of new Covid-19 cases in many countries. Furthermore, the level of uncertainty which remains very high, affecting households and businesses, should also play a role. As a result, monetary and especially fiscal policies remain crucial in ensuring that the recovery continues pending the release of a vaccine.
    Social distancing and lockdown measures implemented to combat the Covid-19 pandemic severely damaged the US economy in Q2 2020, resulting in a record 9.1% decline in GDP. The ensuing recovery is still incomplete and inequitable, as many of Americans still unemployed because of the pandemic are from low-income categories. The health toll is getting worse, and the United States is the country with the highest number of deaths (nearly 200,000 victims to date). President Donald Trump long played down the disease but must now deal with consequences during the run up to the presidential election on 3 November. Although the incumbent president is lagging in the polls, the election’s outcome is still highly uncertain.
    The economy continues to recover. Initially driven by a rebound in industrial production and investment, the recovery broadened over the summer months. Exports have rebounded and activity has also picked up in the services sector. Yet it continues to be strained by the timid rebound in household consumption, which is far from returning to normal levels. The unemployment rate began to fall right again after the end of lockdown measures, but this decline has been accompanied by an increase in precarious jobs and large disparities, with the unskilled and young college graduates being particularly hard hit.
    It will take a long time for Japan to erase the economic shock of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though lockdown measures were less restrictive than in other countries, Japanese GDP is poised for a record contraction in 2020. The expected rebound could be mild. Household confidence and business activity indicators have stagnated, sending mixed signals about the strength of domestic demand. The Covid crisis is bound to accentuate the weaknesses of the Japanese economy: sluggish growth, low inflation and record-high public debt. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s resignation is unlikely to lead to any major policy changes as Japan continues to pursue expansionist economic policies.
    After a more vigorous than expected recovery following the end of lockdown, the trend now seems less energetic. There is still lost ground to make up and the end of the year, beset by uncertainty on the health and economic fronts, is likely to see a marked decline of growth. In our central scenario, there is no return to pre-crisis GDP level before the forecast horizon at the end of 2021. Coupled with this, deflationary pressures are building, and the strengthening of the euro intensifies this dynamic. So far the European Central Bank has been patient, but has indicated its willingness to take new measures. If the current situation persists, an extension of emergency monetary measures, in terms of both size and duration, looks likely.
    A strong rebound is expected in Q3 (7.2%) following the progressive lifting of restrictions. Nevertheless, the recovery is likely to remain slow and bumpy at times, at least until there is a Covid-19 vaccine or a better treatment. Thanks to the widespread use of furlough, the labour market has held up reasonably well. However, the scheme may also have been delaying a necessary restructuring, which could weigh on the long-term performance of the economy. The huge increase in public spending to ease the economic consequences of the virus have forced the authorities to activate the debt brake exemption clause. The excess debt will be repaid over 20 years starting in 2023.
    After a rapid restart in May and June, the economy was back to 95% of its normal level in August. However, the improvement is now slowing as the automatic catch-up effects fall away and as substantial disparities between sectors and persistent public health constraints and uncertainties remain in play. Even so, Q3 is expected to see a substantial rebound (of around 15% q/q). It will be in Q4 that growth is likely to fall back like a soufflé. This period will determine the next chapter in the recovery. Hence the significance of the stimulus package in its double role of softening the blow from the crisis and boosting the recovery now under way. We estimate that this package will add 0.6 of a point to growth in 2021, taking it to 6.9%, after a contraction of 9.8% in 2020.
    In Q2 2020, real GDP fell by 12.8%, dropping down to values recorded in the 1990s. A weakened domestic demand was the main driver of the recession, with households reducing their expenditure and investment falling by 15%. The contraction became widespread. The real estate sector sent mixed messages: in Q1 2020 prices went up while transactions experienced a sharp decline. Latest data have signaled a rebound of the economy, even if the scenario remains uncertain. The strength of the recovery will depend on the behaviour of businesses and households, which will in turn be affected by the evolution of the pandemic. In the real estate sector, both prices and transactions should experience a sharp decline by the end of the year. Transactions should only partially recover in 2022. 
    The Spanish economy registered a record contraction of 22.7% in the first half of 2020. With the public deficit likely to rise above 10% of GDP this year, the government faces some difficult decisions, notably on the terms and conditions of its temporary layoff scheme (ERTE). The recovery in industrial production since the easing in lockdown restrictions in May is encouraging. However, this only partially compensate for the slow pick-up in activity in other sectors. The final quarter of 2020 will be a pivotal moment. A substantial programme of support for employment and investment (under the recovery package announced this autumn) is needed, while narrowing down support more specifically towards the sectors lastingly affected by the crisis.
    Economic activity contracted less than in the neighbouring countries (-8.5%). Hard data confirm a rebound in Q3, although social distancing rules are weighing on activity, in particular in services. Thanks to the substantial financial buffers, the government can cope with the considerable costs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, the deficit is projected at around 5% of GDP and the debt ratio may end up just above 60%. The centre-right coalition is likely to lose the majority at the next general election in March 2021. If the social democrats and greens do well, a purple coalition would be possible.  
    We expect the Belgian economy to lose 7.5% of its size this year and grow by 4.6% next year. Consumption is on course for a strong recovery but corporates remain hesitant to invest, with government interventions expected to pick up some of the slack. Government formation talks are likely to have entered a final phase. The new coalition will have its work cut out for it, as both supportive measures in the short term and a deficit-reduction program in the medium term are needed.  
    Finland’s economy was showing signs of weakness even before the Covid-19 pandemic started – indeed, GDP contracted a bit in the fourth quarter of 2019. In spite of that, the economy has been one of the most resilient in Europe. That is notably because the pandemic has been relatively contained, allowing the authorities to impose softer restriction measures. Another reason is the substantial support provided by the government.
    Despite managing well the epidemic, Portugal has experienced a severe economic shock in Q2. Real GDP plunged by 13.9%, pulled down by sharp falls in goods and services exports (-36.1% q/q) and private sector consumption (-14.0% q/q). Investment dropped (8.9% q/q). The country has been heavily impacted by the collapse in tourism inflows and foreign activity, particularly in Spain. External factors could also hamper the recovery, particularly given the surge in new Covid-19 cases in Spain. Nevertheless, the improvement in public finances operated in recent years should translate into a government deficit for 2020 smaller than in other European countries – around 7.0% of GDP according to government estimates. This provides relatively more leeway to support the recovery.
    While UK GDP has bounced back since May and has made up half of lost ground caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic crisis is still far from being over. In particular, concerns are mounting over the labour market, as the government’s furlough scheme will be terminated in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, the end of the transition period that maintains the UK in the EU single market and customs union is coming up fast. Disagreements during the negotiations raise fears about the UK leaving without a trade agreement, which could have an even bigger impact on the economy in the long term than the current crisis.
    Not only was Norway affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the country also had to face a big fall in the price of its main export: oil. Nevertheless, these two shocks have been cushioned by the structure of the Norwegian economy and the authorities’ fiscal and monetary response. The country’s economy is now one of the best positioned to return to its pre-pandemic levels. Indeed, it is already showing signs of improvement.
    14 July 2020
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    The easing of lockdown measures has caused a significant improvement in business sentiment and a mechanical rebound in activity and demand. In the near term, the narrowing of the gap between observed and normal activity levels should gradually lead to less spectacular growth numbers. These are underpinned by pent-up demand, monetary and fiscal policy support and the possibility for households to use the extra-savings accumulated during the lockdown. A lot will depend however on how uncertainty evolves. The health situation is not under control in certain countries and there are concerns about the risk of a flare-up. Households face income uncertainty due to bleak labour market prospects. Against this background, companies may tune down their investment plans.
    In spring 2020, partially paralysed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the US economy entered the worst recession since 1946. Global activity contracted by more than 10% in Q2 before picking up slightly since the month of May. The question is how much of the lost ground can be recovered. With the approach of summer, business surveys are improving and the equity markets are rebounding, signalling rather optimistic expectations, possibly excessively so. Bolstered by the Federal Reserve’s liquidity injections, the markets could be underestimating the risk of corporate defaults, especially given their increasingly heavy debt loads. The latest statistics on the propagation of the virus are not good.
    The economy has been recovering gradually since March, and the rebound in real GDP should be strong enough to enable it to recover rapidly the ground lost in the first quarter. Yet the shock triggered by the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown measures has severely weakened some sectors (such as export-oriented industries), some corporates (notably micro-enterprises and SMEs) and some households (especially low-income earners). The central bank has cautiously eased credit conditions and the government has introduced a stimulus plan estimated at about 5 points of GDP for 2020. Public investment in infrastructure projects remains the instrument of choice, but direct support to corporates and households is also expected to boost private demand.    
    Like the vast majority of economies, Japan will go into recession in 2020. The expected rebound in 2021 is likely to be relatively mild. The latest economic indicators reveal an economic situation that is still highly deteriorated compared to normal times. Once again, massive fiscal stimulus has been set in motion. The Bank of Japan’s monetary policy, notably through the Yield Curve Control, should largely reduce the risk of higher financing costs due to the expected rise in public debt.
    Although the Eurozone member countries seem to have the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic well under control, they are now facing major economic hardships. The most recent leading economic indicators are showing signs of a turnaround but the road ahead will still be long. It will be hard to fully absorb the loss of activity reported at the height of the crisis. Public policies will play a crucial role. In the months ahead, the probability is very high that there will be a sharp increase in the jobless rate, especially for long-term unemployment, and a series of corporate bankruptcies. The European Central Bank (ECB) is providing member states with very favourable financing conditions. A response at the European level must come through, and the Recovery Fund needs to be set up rapidly.
    With the gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions, economic activity has shown signs of rebounding. The government stimulus plan might give further impetus to growth and also contribute to lower carbon emissions. The prospect of an EU stimulus is good news for Germany’s export-oriented manufacturing sector. However, in the absence of a Covid vaccine or better treatments the recovery is likely to be bumpy. GDP is unlikely to return to its pre-Covid level before 2022
    After a massive recessionary shock, the French economy has been showing signs of recovering rather rapidly since May, raising hopes for a V-shaped recovery. Markit’s composite PMI index and household spending on goods both rebounded spectacularly, which is encouraging. But these gains were largely automatic and will lessen as the catching-up effect wears off. To return to pre-crisis levels, it will probably take longer to close the remaining gap than it took to regain lost ground so far. There are several explanations: sector heterogeneity, ongoing health risks and the scars of the crisis. We foresee a U-shaped recovery (-11.1% in 2020, +5.9% in 2021). The risks seem to be well balanced, thanks notably to support measures that have already been taken or are in the pipeline.
    The outbreak of Covid-19 took hold in Italy earlier than in other EU countries, with strong negative effects on the economy. In Q1 2020, real GDP fell by 5.3%. The contraction affected all economic sectors: manufacturing, services and construction. Domestic demand had a negative contribution (-5.5%). Italian households become extremely cautious, reducing expenditures more than income: the propensity to save rose to 12.5%. The pandemic has dramatically hit the labor market: disadvantaged categories, such as low skills workers, those with precarious contracts and young people, are the most severely affected by the lockdown.
    The unprecedented economic contraction in H1 2020 raises serious doubts about the upcoming recovery. Although the reopening phase has proceeded smoothly so far, the recovery in employment was very small in June. Tourism remains under the threat of a resurgence of the Covid-19 epidemics in Europe. The swelling public deficit will force Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to design a tight recovery package that balances between short-term emergency measures and long-term investments. This difficult equilibrium is likely to heighten the tensions in the governing coalition between Podemos and the socialist party. Subsidies allocated as part of the European Recovery Plan would give Spain some fiscal leeway, but the final terms and amount of the funds are yet to be finalised.     
    We expect GDP to shrink 11.1% this year and grow by 5.9% next year. The unemployment rate could reach 9%, its highest level in 22 years. Different branches of the government have announced measures to counter the impact of the covid-virus but federal government formation talks are still ongoing, which complicates matters. As public debt is expected to come in at 123% of GDP by the end of the year, the room of maneuver is limited, but the need to support the economy will take priority, at least for now.
    Despite successfully managing the Covid-19 pandemic, Greece will not avoid a severe recession in 2020. The tourism industry – which accounts for nearly 20% of the country’s GDP – offers no guarantee for a solid recovery. The prospect of a resurgence in contamination in Europe will weigh on the tourism sector in the coming months. The Greek banking system will further weaken, and public debt will rise sharply. That said, the European Central Bank (ECB) has launched the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) in March, which allows the ECB to purchase Greek sovereign debt. This has kept a lid on sovereign rates. This difficult context may entice the government to draw a recovery plan that targets strategic sectors less linked to the tourism industry.
    Due to the late implementation of lockdown measures, the UK was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, the country is reopening after its European neighbours, and its economy has been particularly affected. The return to pre-crisis levels will therefore be long and difficult. What’s more, the risk of a protracted crisis is all the greater due to two major threats looming on the horizon: a second wave of the pandemic requiring lockdown measures to be imposed again; and failure to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the European Union before the end of the year.
    After the deepest recession in recent history, economic activity is turning up again due to the gradual easing of the lockdown measures in Switzerland and the neighbouring countries. The exceptionally accommodative monetary and fiscal policy stances are also contributing to the recovery. SMEs have made use of the special loan programme and employees have benefitted from the short-time work scheme. Nevertheless, the recovery is likely to be slow, and economic activity is unlikely to return to pre-crisis levels before end 2022. The government is confident that the Covid-related debt can be repaid without raising taxes.
    At first sight, Sweden ranks among the countries best positioned to face the global economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. The government’s restrictive measures were not as stringent as in most other developed countries (shops and restaurants remained open, for example), the Swedish economy does not have much exposure to the hardest hit sectors, and the authorities have comfortable policy leeway. Yet the country also presents some vulnerabilities that make us less optimistic about its capacity to rebound. Among those are its dependence on global trade and households’ financial situation.
    Faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, the authorities rapidly imposed strict protective measures that effectively maintained the health crisis under control. The economy was also in a relatively good position at the beginning of the crisis – notably thanks to low unemployment and public debt – and fiscal as well as monetary support measures were quickly introduced by the government and the central bank. With all that in mind, the OECD estimates that Denmark will be one of the most resilient economies in 2020, forecasting a fall in GDP “limited” to 5.8%.
    07 April 2020
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    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a sudden stop in an increasing number of countries. This in turn had led to international spillovers via a decline in foreign trade and an increase in investor risk aversion triggering a global rush for dollar liquidity and a surge in capital outflows from developing economies. A forceful reaction has followed in major economies in terms of monetary and fiscal policy in an effort to attenuate the impact of the pandemic. The near-term dynamics of demand and activity will entirely depend on the length and severity of the lockdown. Once the lockdown has ended, the recovery is likely to be gradual and uneven and policy will have to shift from pandemic relief to growth-boosting measures, thereby putting additional pressure on public finances.  
    The American people and the US economy will no longer be spared the coronavirus pandemic, no more than any other country. Arriving belatedly on US soil and long belittled by President Trump, the virus is now spreading rampantly, to the point that WHO is now preparing to declare the United States the pandemic’s new epicentre. With its federal structure, the US has taken a scattered approach, leaving each state to decide whether or not to introduce lockdown measures. Although the White House has closed the country’s borders (to the European Union and Canada, among others), it was reluctant to restrict domestic movements of goods and people. Foreseeing recession, the markets have plunged and the central bank has launched a veritable monetary “Marshall Plan”.
    China’s population and its economy were the first to be struck by the coronavirus epidemic. Activity contracted abruptly during the month of February before rebounding thereafter at a very gradual pace. Although the situation on the supply side is expected to return to normal in Q2, the demand shock will persist. Domestic investment and consumption will suffer from the effects of lost household and corporate revenues while world demand is falling. The authorities still have substantial resources to intervene to help restart the economy. Central government finances are not threatened. However, after the shock to GDP growth, the expected upsurge in domestic debt ratios will once again aggravate vulnerabilities in the financial sector.
    The shock of the Covid-19 pandemic comes hard on the heels of a difficult second half of 2019 for the Japanese economy. Like many others, the country is exposed to the economic fallout from this crisis. Its significant economic dependence on China, for imports, exports and tourist flows, further weakens the Japanese economy. The latest economic indicators suggest that the shock will be important. Japan will thus go into recession this year. Lacking adequate room for manoeuvre on the monetary front, fiscal policy will need to provide support. To this end, the Abe government would be preparing a major stimulus package.
    The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a recession in the Eurozone that looks likely to be deep but short-lived. After a difficult year and a half on the economic front, the Eurozone was showing some resilience and was even beginning to show signs of stabilisation. The current shock – in demand, supply and uncertainty simultaneously – has completely changed the outlook. The health measures taken- which have been necessary to protect the population from the virus- have created the conditions for a recession. Monetary and fiscal policymakers have reacted swiftly and, so far, proportionately. However, the profile of the economic recovery remains unclear and will be crucial in assessing the damage ultimately caused by the pandemic.
    The German economy has come to a standstill because of the almost complete lockdown. To fight the economic consequences, the government launched a massive stimulus plan to increase spending in the health sector, protect jobs and support businesses. Nevertheless, production losses may reach dimensions that are well beyond growth falls in previous recessions. In the worst scenario of a three-month lockdown, GDP growth could lose around 20 percentage points and 6 million people may have to join the short-time work scheme.
    Clearly, 2020 will not be another year of slow but resilient growth as we were forecasting just last quarter. We must now expect a massive recessionary shock triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. To date, the INSEE estimates the instantaneous loss of economic activity linked directly to confinement measures at 35%, which is equivalent to slashing off 3 points of annual GDP per month of confinement. In March, the business climate was in free fall, which gives us a first glimpse of its scope. A full arsenal of measures have been deployed to mitigate the shock as best possible. According to our estimates, French GDP could contract by 3.1% in 2020, more than the 2.8% decline reported in 2009, before rebounding by 5.4% in 2021. These forecasts are highly uncertain, with risks on the downside.
    The outbreak of Covid-19 hit Italy while the economy was already contracting. The exceptional growth of infected people has brought the Italian Government to take harsh measures, that include stopping all economic activities, excluding those considered as necessary, and imposing a quarantine for the entire population. The combination of an induced supply and demand shocks is going to cause a recession, which is expected to be deep and to last at least until June. In 2020 as a whole, despite the strong support coming from fiscal and monetary policy, the Italian economy should decline by some percentage points.   
    Spain is Europe’s second hardest-hit country by the coronavirus pandemic, and is likely to suffer a sharp economic contraction this year. The economic impact remains hard to quantify. GDP is nonetheless likely to fall by more than 3% in 2020, before a recovery in 2021. The structure of the Spanish economy – turned heavily towards services and with a high proportion of SMEs – suggests that the economic shock could be greater than in other industrialised countries. Endemic unemployment could intensify, leaving a lasting mark on growth over the medium term. However, the improvement in public finances before the virus outbreak and a more stable political situation gives the government some leeway to face the crisis.
    As the country went into a selected lockdown, business confidence plummeted. To limit the economic fallout, the government announced a comprehensive package to protect jobs and businesses, its favourable budgetary position giving it sufficient firing power. Nevertheless, each month of lockdown may reduce output growth by around 2 percentage points. In the case of a rapid recovery, the GDP shrinkage could be limited to around 3.5% in 2020.
    Due to the Covid-19 virus our growth outlook declines by 5 percentage points to -3.5% for the whole of 2020, despite government measures to attenuate the impact of the epidemic. We see strong hits across almost all sectors, most notably construction and real estate related activities. Prime Minister Wilmés was empowered by a “corona coalition”, which provides a welcome if only temporary breather from government formation talks. The government so far managed this crisis in decisive fashion but eventually the bill will have to be footed.
    After what proved to be a rather mild slowdown, Portugal’s GDP growth ended up in the upper range of expectations at 2.2% in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic will surely erase the country’s enviable performances as whole segments of the economy come to a standstill and the country sinks into a major recession in the weeks ahead. Similarly to its European counterparts, the Costa government is steadily implementing a series of measures to preserve the economic system during the crisis and safeguard the country’s capacity to recover.
    Now a global phenomenon, the Covid-19 pandemic reached the United Kingdom relatively late and did not give rise to immediate protective measures. Having initially opted for a ‘herd immunity’ strategy, Boris Johnson’s government finally decided, on 24 March, to introduce a national lockdown. As in Italy, France and indeed generally across continental Europe, people’s movements and interactions are now limited in the UK. The disease, meanwhile, has spread rapidly, on a trajectory similar to that seen in the worst affected countries. Faced with the health and economic threats created by the pandemic, the government and the monetary policy authorities have introduced an exceptional package of support.
    After the economic slowdown was confirmed in 2019, the global shock of the coronavirus pandemic will probably drive Sweden into recession in 2020. The evaporation of global demand, notably from the European Union and China, will trigger a drop-off in exports, and production channels will temporarily freeze up. Investment and consumption will both be hit. The central bank has adopted unprecedented support measures while the government is devoting its financial manoeuvring room to funding a fiscal stimulus policy that supports jobs and businesses.
    With the coronavirus epidemic and its impact on oil prices, which are plummeting, the Norwegian economy is heading for a contraction in 2020. Exports, which account for 41% of GDP, are likely to be hit first. Norway’s central bank cut its key rate to nearly zero and has considerably increased NOK and USD lending, injecting liquidity into the economy while supporting the currency. The government has introduced fiscal measures to buffer the shock for companies and households.
    The Coronavirus epidemic is also sweeping Denmark, which has now introduced relatively strict lockdown measures. With its very open economy (exports account for more than 50% of GDP), GDP growth will contract in 2020. To mitigate the shock, the government has launched major fiscal support measures, comprised notably of paying compensation for all or part of wages for a 3-month period. The central bank is ensuring DKK and EUR liquidity, after signing a swap arrangement with the ECB.
    Economic activity will plummet under the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but not only via the export channel. The recession could become more virulent if household consumption and production channels were also to freeze up. In addition to the ECB’s monetary policy support, the government will also try to use fiscal policy to buffer the shock and limit the decline in employment.
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